Category Archives: Tsalteshi Trails

Administrators race to break red tape — Battle of Binkley draws healthy participation

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Battle of Binkley organizer Bobbi Lay shows competitors Paul Ostrander, center, and Sean Dusek how much coffee they must use in the first round of the challenge.

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Battle of Binkley organizer Bobbi Lay shows competitors Paul Ostrander, center, and Sean Dusek how much coffee they must use in the first round of the challenge.

By Redoubt Reporter

There was still a score to be settled when the Salmon Run series of community races finished up Aug. 5, but this one didn’t require running, except for running a coffee maker.

Participation was better than ever in the fourth year of the Salmon Run Series, with each of the five weekly races topping 120 participants, and one week nearly drawing 170.

That’s thanks, in part, to increased participation from Kenai Peninsula Borough and school district employees who squared off in the Battle of Binkley participation challenge. Each Salmon Run, the number of school district vs. borough employees was tallied. Whichever side of the borough administration building — located on Binkley Street in Soldotna — tallied the most participants in all five Salmon Runs would win. The prize? Bragging rights. But also the health benefits that come from being active.

In an added twist, there were five extra points in play, and it was up to the administrators of the borough and school district to settle which side got them. That was determined Aug. 12, prior to the Fountain of Youth run at Tsalteshi Trails, as school district Superintendent Sean Dusek squared off against borough Mayor Mike Navarre’s proxy, Chief of Staff Paul Ostrander, as Navarre was delayed in Anchorage testifying in a hearing.

The tally was neck and neck as the administrator challenge came to a head.

“The borough actually had more people participate, but the school district had more repeat offenders, so it is extremely close, and these gentlemen have a chance to win five points for their team,” said Mike Crawford, with Tsalteshi Trails Association and creator of the Battle of Binkley with borough co-worker Bobbi Lay.

As Crawford explained, the score would be settled through bureaucratic, rather than athletic, prowess.

“First off, they are going to make an entire pot of coffee, because, as we know, caffeine is an integral part of any meeting,” he said, as Lay demonstrated how the coffee pots worked and how much grounds must be used.

Multitasking was the order of the day. While the coffee brewed, the competitors moved onto the stiff collar competition — unrolling and putting on a frozen t-shirt — and the Ding-Dong challenge.

“Sustenance. What bureaucratic meeting does not need sustenance? So here we have Hostess snack cakes, enough to power you through any meeting,” Crawford said. A brief conference ensued to determine the number of snack cakes to be consumed. “How many do you guys want to eat? One?”

“OK, they’ve decided to eat one Ding-Dong,” Crawford announced to the crowd.

Newly fueled, the competitors would find a stack of 10 cards bearing names to be alphabetized. Finally, once enough coffee was brewed, it was to be poured into a cup, the lid secured and the vessel carried through a series of barriers strung with flagging tape — red, of course. Whoever cut through the red tape with a full cup of coffee first, would win.

“Are the administrators ready for the bureaucratic beatdown?” Crawford intoned. “OK, timers are you ready? Racers are you ready? Let’s go!”

Continue reading

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under exercise, government, health, Tsalteshi Trails

Ripe for the brain picking — Berry walkers harvest abundant knowledge

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Janice Chumley, integrated pest management technician for the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service office in Soldotna, points out low-bush lingonberries, pictured below,  to a crowd of participants in a berry identification walk Monday afternoon at Tsalteshi Trails in Soldotna. The event was held as part of the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival, ongoing through Saturday.

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Janice Chumley, integrated pest management technician for the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service office in Soldotna, points out low-bush lingonberries, pictured below, to a crowd of participants in a berry identification walk Monday afternoon at Tsalteshi Trails in Soldotna. The event was held as part of the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival, ongoing through Saturday.

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

Thirty-four people combed the forest floor Monday afternoon, eyes peeled, attention piqued, senses alert. Their quarry was stationary and abundant but the hunt still held challenges. Not so much in the finding, but in telling one specimen from the wide variety of others.

“What’s this?” “Here’s some red ones!” “Are these any good?”

Variations of those comments formed a background of chatter for the hour-and-a-half walk on Tsalteshi Trails, ebbing and flowing like waves on a shoreline, quieting as the hunters became engrossed in their task and crescendoing when someone found something new, exciting and hopefully delicious — or at least safely edible.

“Alaska is blessed with many varieties of berries that are good to eat and very few that are berries lingonberriesbad for you,” said Janice Chumley, integrated pest management technician for the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service office in Soldotna.

Chumley served as guide for the berry walk, one of a slate of talks, workshops and other activities offered as part of Harvest Moon Local Food Festival. The 26 adults and eight kids who participated Monday did so to expand their knowledge of local edibles, or start to build it from scratch.

“I’m a Native from Arizona and I relocated here and I was very active in my community, which is the Sonoran desert, because our survival in all the hundreds of years depended on that we knew — the plants and the system and what we could eat and what we couldn’t — and so I’m going to do that here in my new home,” said Elizabeth Spinasanto.

She was looking forward to harvesting berries to use in healthy breakfasts — smoothies or with homemade yogurt, which she had learned about in a previous Harvest Moon workshop.

Elizabeth Spinasanto compares a photo she took with her cellphone to a printout Chumley brought along. The convenience of camera phones make them a great tool for berry identification.

Elizabeth Spinasanto compares a photo she took with her cellphone to a printout Chumley brought along. The convenience of camera phones make them a great tool for berry identification.

“I’m taking the fermentation class, as well. I have not missed any of the classes. I’m kind of excited about it,” she said.

Prior to the walk in the woods, the group met at the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank for a quick course on berry processing with Linda Tannehill, health, home and family agent with the Cooperative Extension Service. Processing doesn’t need to be time-intensive, she said. Berries are usually good to eat straight off the plant — the key word being “usually.”

“You don’t have to wash them depending on where you pick,” she said. “But if it’s a place where there is a lot of dogs or traffic, you might want to rinse them off.”

Pick as cleanly as possible to save work later, but removing detrius from most berries is generally a simple affair. Some people pour their harvest from one bowl to another on a windy day or in front of a fan to blow off any leaves, stems and other debris. Tannehill prefers more control in her cleaning method. She rubber-bands a terrycloth towel onto a cutting board, rolling the edges to form a channel down the middle of board, then holds the board at an incline and pours the berries down it and into a baking pan with raised edges. The knap of the towel grabs the litter while the berries roll down into the pan — and hopefully no farther.

“I have to have bumpers,” she said. “I’ve chased blueberries across the floor and my dogs get there first. And so I’ve learned to put bumpers on my towel here.”

Sometimes berries contain insects. They aren’t harmful, but soaking firm berries in a solution of salt water can draw out any creatures that might be lurking inside.

“If you’re grossed out by bugs then maybe you want to soak them. It’s all your own comfort level,” Chumley said.

Frozen berries keep for a few years, especially when vacuum-packed in a good-quality bag with a good seal. But freeze the berries first to avoid a squished mess, spreading them in a baking pan and putting them in the freezer for a few hours.

“Do not try to vacuum-package berries unfrozen. There’s no problem if they’re frozen. It’s a big problem if they’re not frozen,” Tannehill said.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under community, Food, food bank, outdoors, Tsalteshi Trails

Off and running — Salmon Run Series nets wide turnout

Photo by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. The first of five Salmon Run Series races kicked off July 8 at Tsalteshi Trails behind Skyview Middle School. This year’s series includes kids races, youth running camps and a participation competition between Kenai Peninsula Borough and school district employees.

Photo by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. The first of five Salmon Run Series races kicked off July 8 at Tsalteshi Trails behind Skyview Middle School. This year’s series includes kids races, youth running camps and a participation competition between Kenai Peninsula Borough and school district employees.

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

When you’re little, there’s no nuance to running. There’s no training, no pacing, no heart-rate monitoring. You either go, arms pin-wheeling and legs scissoring as fast as possible, or you stop. And you might not even go in any consistent direction.

That was the case for the little guys running the one-kilometer, 5-and-under kids course July 8 before the regular 5K community Salmon Run Series at Tsalteshi Trails. Some were slowed by an attention-worthy rock or a branch, or they veered a little off course when spotting Mom in the crowd, or they got a little confused at the finish line, running under the tape instead of through the finisher’s chute.

But what they lacked in sophisticated navigation, they more than made up for in enthusiasm.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under community, outdoors, Tsalteshi Trails

Making nice with the ice — Tsalteshi Trails still in the running to enjoy winter

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Adam Tafoya finds an efficient way of getting down the icy sledding hill behind Skyview Middle School in Tsalteshi Trails’ Black Stone Axe Ridge Race on Sunday, while Sondra Stonecipher, Melissa Tafoya and Jane Fuerstenau (right to left) exercise the traditional method.

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Adam Tafoya finds an efficient way of getting down the icy sledding hill behind Skyview Middle School in Tsalteshi Trails’ Black Stone Axe Ridge Race on Sunday, while Sondra Stonecipher, Melissa Tafoya and Jane Fuerstenau (right to left) exercise the traditional method.

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

Things looked like they should for race day at Tsalteshi Trails on Sunday afternoon — cars filling the parking lot of the Wolverine Trailhead on Kalifornsky Beach Road, orange markings denoting the starting line and racecourse, clipboard-laden volunteers taking registrations and handing out numbered bibs, and participants layered in winter activewear, trotting in circles, swinging limbs and bouncing in place in order to stay warm and warm up for the effort to come.

But when race organizer Mike Crawford yelled, “Go,” things didn’t sound quite like they should for a mid-January event at the ski trails. Instead of the long, rhythmic schuss of skis on snow, there was the quick, staccato racket of ice-cleated footfalls running along bare, gravelly ground.

What was supposed to be the second installment of Tsalteshi’s Freeze Style weekly community ski race series had been turned into the Black Stone Axe Ridge Run instead — Tsalteshi meaning “Black Stone Axe Ridge” in the local Native Dena’ina language.

The volunteers, the equipment and the participants were ready to go. Tsalteshi had everything needed to hold a ski race, except:

Scott Huff emerges from the woods at the end of the Mosquito Trail behind Skyview Middle School.

Scott Huff emerges from the woods at the end of the Mosquito Trail behind Skyview Middle School.

“There’s no snow,” Crawford said. “We had a good start to the snow season and then it kind of went pear-shaped for a while, so the impetus was, ‘Let’s do something fun anyway and let’s adhere to winter rules because we still have a million miles of trails here, so let’s use them. Let’s get people outside, it’s a beautiful day, let’s make fun with lemons and lemonade.”

The “winter rules” to which Crawford is referring take effect once there’s skiable snow at Tsalteshi, and stipulate that there be no foot traffic on the ski trails for the duration of ski season, since the indentions left by shoes and boots cause problems for snow grooming.

While skiing hasn’t been particularly feasible since a warm spell struck the central Kenai Peninsula around Christmas, Tsalteshi’s winter rules remain in effect to preserve the scant amount of snow base still left on the trails.

But there is one exception to the no walking, running or hiking rule — the Mosquito Snowshoe Trail, a three-kilometer path snaking through the trails system from the Wolverine Trailhead to just behind Skyview Middle School. That’s open to foot traffic year-round, and doubles as a single-track mountain bike trail in the summer months.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under outdoors, Tsalteshi Trails

Take aim at disc golf craze — Tournament lands growing popularity with new course

Photos by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. Mikhail Parrish, 5, plays in the Salmon Toss Disc Golf Tournament on Saturday while on vacation from Germany. The event was hosted by River City Rotaract and held at the 19-hole course at Tsalteshi Trails behind Skyview High School.

Photos by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. Mikhail Parrish, 5, plays in the Salmon Toss Disc Golf Tournament on Saturday while on vacation from Germany. The event was hosted by River City Rotaract and held at the 19-hole course at Tsalteshi Trails behind Skyview High School.

By Joseph Robertia

Redoubt Reporter

As Mikhail Parrish, on vacation with his family from Germany, stepped up to the tee, he realized the immense task that stood in front of him. There was a deep dogleg to the right obscuring his drive. Even without the bend the narrow fairway had tall spruce and dense vegetation on either side, also obstructing his field of view, and the course dropped dozens of feet in elevation from the tee.

Still, if he felt any trepidation, he didn’t show it as he stepped up, focused on his foot placement, aimed for an end goal he could not see, then let a flat, tangerine-colored disc rip into the nearly cloudless sky.

Not a hole in one, but not a bad toss, especially given that Mikhail is all of 5 years old. It was good enough to bring a smile to his face, and to the faces of the organizers of the inaugural Salmon Toss Disc Golf Tournament held Saturday on the new course at Tsalteshi Trails behind to Skyview High School. Roughly two dozen people took part in the tournament, which involved 19 holes of play, as well as longest drive and closest-to-the-pin events.

“This is a good turnout for our first event. I’m really pleased with it,” said Stephanie Musgrove, an organizer of the event and co-chair of River City Rotaract, a group of young adults who are service partners with Rotary International and responsible for the course’s inception this past year.

“The purpose of this event was primarily awareness,” she said. “We wanted people to know it was here, so they could come all summer and play.”

The goal of the organizers also was to give kids, teens and adults an opportunity for fitness, friendship and fun. Those involved Saturday were of varying ages, experience levels and from different regions of the country and world, all engaged in the fun of disc golf, whether they call it that, “frolf” or aiming for the chains.

While Parrish was one of the youngest players of the day, Mike Guilliame, 49, of Anchorage, brought much more experience. While he only began playing disc golf about two years ago, he said that when he was a kid he played Frisbee on the beaches of Florida, from which he originally hails.

“Within eight months I started winning events and last year I was the Ace Race winner in Anchorage,” he said.

Stocky-framed, silver-haired and accurate with his throws, Guilliame said that he got so good so quickly by putting in a lot of practice hours.

“I play a lot more than most people,” he said. “Some people play once to twice a week, but I used to live next to a course, so I played two to four times a day for eight months.”

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under outdoors, recreation, sports, Tsalteshi Trails

Path to a parks plan — Soldotna issues draft parks, trails master plan

File photo by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. A runner in the Kenai River Marathon heads down Bridge Access Road with the mountains flanking Cook Inlet behind her.

File photo by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. A runner in the Kenai River Marathon heads down Bridge Access Road with the mountains flanking Cook Inlet behind her.

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

If you live in the Soldotna area and are recreation- or activity-minded, chances are you’ve thought at least one of the following:

It’d sure be nice to have longer stretches to walk along the Kenai River.

It’s too bad the Unity Trail doesn’t continue through Soldotna, so we don’t have to walk, run or ride a bike right alongside the Sterling Highway.

I wish there were an indoor place to walk, or some turf on which to practice soccer before the snow melts.

It’d be great if teens had more maintained, supervised places to hang out and recreate.

Can’t someone do something to make the Sterling-Kenai Spur highways “Y” intersection less of a pain for pedestrians and bicyclists?

Or the big one — it would be so great to get back and forth from Kenai Peninsula College and downtown Soldotna without having to go all the way around Kalifornsky Beach Road to the Sterling Highway to the David Douthit Memorial Bridge over the Kenai River.

Well, Soldotna, that wishful thinking is on a path to being granted, with the Soldotna Parks and Trails planning process nearing completion. After reviewing past planning efforts, meeting with stakeholder and user groups, conferring with partner agencies and organizations, and soliciting input through a public survey, Casey Planning and Design has released a semifinal, 75 percent-complete draft Soldotna Parks and Trails Master Plan.

An open house will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Soldotna Sports Center, where the public can view the draft plan and its recommendations, ask questions and provide feedback. The draft plan, map and associated documents also will be available on the city of Soldotna’s website. The plan is open for review and public comment through May 10. Planners will contact season-specific recreational user groups over the summer — which might not have been thoroughly represented in the survey conducted this winter — for more input, then submit the plan to the city council for approval next fall.

“We want to keep it at a level of ‘What about?’ As opposed to, ‘Why didn’t they?’ At this point it’s still dynamic,” said Andrew Carmichael, city of Soldotna Parks and Recreation director.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under biking, hiking, outdoors, recreation, skating, skiing, Soldotna, sports, transportation, Tsalteshi Trails

Sights set on spooky

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter

Costumed treat-seekers of all stripes took to Tsalteshi Trails on Sunday for its annual Spook Night event, including a trick-or-treat trail through the woods and a 5-kilometer Zombie Run.

Zombie 5-kilometer

Sunday, Oct. 29, Tsalteshi Trails

Men — Jordan Theisen, first place, 20:03.7; Sean Goff, 21:13.3; Ryder Galic, 25:24.9; Jeremy Kupferschmid, 27:00.1; Tanner Best, 28:21.9; Rick Proffitt, 30:51.2; John Solem, 30:53.5; Joseph Briggs, 31:55.4; Todd Pollock, 35:27.5; Van Grainge, 36:40.2; Billy Morrow, 39:14.9; Will Morrow, 39:15.2; Rick Kraxberger, 46:59.8; Drake Thomas, 53:44.6; Phil Pijahn, 58:48.6.

Women — Emily Colton, first place, 24:18.3; Anna Berington, 27:19.8, Kristy Berington, 27:20.1; Hadassah Udelhoven, 27:53.4; Regina Theisen, 29:36.2; Nimi Pollock, 31:01.6; Melody Nichol, 32:09.9; Patty Moran, 32:37.0; Janice Habermann, 33:22.2; Jenny Olendorff, 33:22.5; Susan Pfaffe, 33:22.8; Marian Werth, 33:23.1; Madeline Brennan, 35:47.9; Angie Brennan, 35:52.5; Danielle Caswell, 36:02.5; Markie Shiflen, 36:24.8; Amy Adcox, 37:08; Kristin Morrow, 39:15.5; Diane Pollock, 43:10.2; Thi Pijahn, 46:07.8; Amber Kraxberger, 47:00.1; Shelby Dykstra, 48:43.8; Kathy Hahmel, 48:46.7; Joni Dykstra, 48:47.0; Yvonne Oren, 50:08.5; Kristen Mitchell, 53:48.6; Lauri Langafelt, 53:51.2; Jennifer Jackson, 55:12.2; Heather Christian, 58:48.3; Laura McIndoe, 1:03:55.1; Becky Hutchinson, 1:04:12.5.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leave a comment

Filed under Tsalteshi Trails